Psalm 64

Psalm 64[a]

Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illness

1 For the director.[b] A psalm of David.

2 Listen, O God, to my cry of lament;
from the dreaded enemy preserve my life.
3 Protect me from the council of the wicked,
from the band of those who do evil.
4 They sharpen their tongues[c] like swords,
and they shoot forth their venomous words like arrows,
5 while they attack the innocent from ambush,
shooting suddenly and without fear.
6 [d]They agree on their evil plan,
and they resolve to lay snares,
saying, “Who will see us?”
7 They plot evil schemes
and devise shrewd plots;
the thoughts of their hearts[e] are hidden.
8 [f]However, God will shoot his arrows at them,[g]
and they will suddenly be struck down.
9 Their own tongues will bring them down,
and all who see them will wag their heads.[h]
10 [i]Then everyone will be in awe,
as they proclaim God’s mighty deeds
and contemplate what he has done.[j]
11 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him;
all the upright in heart will praise him.


  1. Psalm 64:1 The psalmist shows that the righteous are often defenseless before the cynicism of the machinations and calumnies to which they are prey. Those who weave their intrigues act in shadows and believe they are hidden from view. However, God sees everything, even secret human actions and designs. His judgment overtakes those who evade justice. Basing himself on the law of talion (“an eye for an eye”), the author imagines that, even here below, God will turn their evil against the wicked while publicly acquitting the righteous. Each life will be brought before the judgment of God; the righteous will find their joy in the Lord. Such is the lesson of the psalm, even though the ways of God follow a more mysterious course than its author yet suspected.
    This psalm was applied to the Passion of Jesus by St. Augustine. It also finds a ready place in the prayer of the Church and the faithful who experience the physical and spiritual attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil as we await the coming of Christ to dispense true justice (see Rev 19:1f).
  2. Psalm 64:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 64:4 Tongues: see note on Ps 5:10.
  4. Psalm 64:6 These verses enlarge the portrait of the wicked set forth in verses 3-5; there the wicked are shown opposing the innocent, while here their common plotting is shown. The wicked lay snares to trap their victims (see Pss 35:7; 119:110; 140:6; 142:4; Deut 7:16; Prov 22:24f; Jer 7:9f).
  5. Psalm 64:7 Hearts: see note on Ps 4:8. Hidden: literally, “deep” (see Prov 18:4; 20:5).
  6. Psalm 64:8 See notes on Pss 5:11; 35.
  7. Psalm 64:8 God will turn on the wicked the harm they wanted to do to the psalmist, as demanded by the law of talion (see Pss 7:13f; 9:16f; 35:7f; 37:15; 59:13f; 140:10). He will shoot his arrows at them (see Ps 38:3; Deut 32:42). The shame they had intended to bring upon the godly will fall back upon themselves (see Pss 22:8; 52:7-9; 59:11; Jer 48:26).
  8. Psalm 64:9 Wag their heads: a common gesture of ridicule (see Pss 22:8; 44:15; 109:25; Jer 48:27).
  9. Psalm 64:10 The psalmist encourages all to proclaim and ponder the acts of God (see Ps 2:10; Isa 41:20) and to turn to him in adversity. He will vindicate his servants who are righteous (see Pss 7:11; 11:2-7), and they will be in a position to give him praise (see Ps 7:18).
  10. Psalm 64:10 The wicked asked derisively, “Who will see us?” (v. 6) and were unafraid of the consequences of their actions. But when all humanity sees the power of God, fear will come upon everyone.

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